Intercultural Training is probably the Most Important Learning Module for your Employees

Intercultural Training is probably the Most Important Learning Module for your Employees

By Mainak Biswas September 02, 2016 - 5,667 views

Employee training is an essential part of an organization. Comprehensively trained employees deliver better results as compared to employees with limited or no training.

Small scale businesses often think twice before investing in employee training.  No doubt extensive training programs carry a significant cost.  The cost incurred is an investment for business growth. SMEs must realize that trained employees are assets to an organization. Trained employees play a crucial role in company’s success.

Employee learning and training programs are specifically designed according to the employee’s role in business.  A number of organizations have gone global both in physical and virtual settings. A major issue that holds them back is their inability to interact with teams belonging to different culture or country.  Language is one barrier in a cross-cultural work setting. However, this barrier can be overcome if participants are able to speak a common language.

In virtual work environments and outsourcing industry, it is common to find team members belonging to different cultures working towards a common goal.  Your employees should be capable of understanding people belonging to a different culture, their work culture, work ethics, limitations etc to avoid conflicts and disappointments at a later stage.

When is intercultural training necessary?

The purpose of intercultural training is to be able to function as a consolidated team and eliminate all barriers to cross-cultural communication to serve common business interest.

Interpersonal relationships may suffer due to lack of intercultural training.

Intercultural training should be specific to cultures in which you plan to expand and with whom you wish to collaborate.

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  • Organizations with a diverse workforce and operation across cultural boundaries are suitable to enroll for intercultural training programs.
  • If you plan to expand your business across different cultural territories, it is your responsibility to invest in intercultural training of your front-end employees.
  • Intercultural training creates awareness among employees about a different culture. Service providers that operate in a multicultural setting, it is important to choose a learning module that fulfills all their intercultural training needs.
  • Expatriates belonging to your company definitely need intercultural training to understand and exercise their rights at work in a foreign land. They should also have a better understanding of social existence for themselves and their family.

How does intercultural training help your employees?

  • To enhance cultural sensitivity, cultural awareness and knowledge about different cultures

Lack of knowledge about another culture often limits its understanding.  Intercultural training helps employees to break barriers like misconceptions, prejudices and stereotypical attitude towards others.  It teaches them to respect different cultures and be open to relationship development and dialogue.

Intercultural training helps employees to get a better understanding of people’s behavior and enable them to be culturally sensitive.

  • To understand accepted behavioral norms so as not to offend anyone

Employees need to conform to behavioral norms of different cultures.  They need to adopt behavior that pleases everybody at workplace.  Knowingly or unknowingly, there should not be any discrimination based on nationality, race, color or creed.

Apart from that, employees must learn ways to get their task accomplished from culturally different people.  There are tactics that they need to adopt without hurting sentiments.

  • To get awakened understanding of your own culture and how others perceive it

Employees get to know about latent facts and information about their own cultures. They can understand preconceived notions about their culture among other people whilst learning more about others.

  • To generate comfort, motivation and satisfaction at work

With intercultural training, they can boost their personality and induce a new wave of energy within the company. When employees are comfortable to welcome different cultures, productivity grows by leaps and bounds.

It enables employees to understand their roles clearly in a multicultural setting.  It gives them a chance to improve and feel motivated.

  • To closely work with their counterparts and share their compassion

It is essential to develop listening skills when working closely with people from different culture.  Intercultural training teaches employees to listen and interpret conversation.  Communication is enhanced and employees can overcome confusion attributed to miscommunication.

  • Actively adjust in multicultural setting and adapt new work environments

Many outsourcing organizations are increasingly becomingly global by finding the right talent across the world. Employees have to be prepared to interact with people from different cultures.  There is little time for employees to adjust to new work environments because the purpose is to meet the project deadline.  Intercultural training ensures that employees quickly adjust in a multicultural setting without losing any time to communication barriers.

  • To generate interest in a different culture

People generally tend to sway away from different cultures at the workplace.  With cross-cultural training employees readily become more accommodating towards different culture and accept diversity.  They develop interest towards them and open doors for mutual understanding.  They begin to look for positive aspects in a culture and ignore negative ones if any professed.

  • To widen horizons

Employees are often biased towards a specific way of functioning. With requisite cross-cultural skills, they can widen their horizons to see things from different perspectives.  They can open their mind to different approaches and can develop their problem-solving skills.

What approach to follow in intercultural training?

There are different approaches followed by organizations to meet their cultural training goals.  It varies across organizations depending upon the need.

Some of these approaches are:

  • Attribution training

 Here employees are trained to interpret behavior from the viewpoint of the host organization.

  • Cultural awareness training

In this method, employees are made to understand the culture of their foreign counterparts through cultural sensitivity training groups.

  • Interaction training

Here employees are made to interact with other employees who already have an experience dealing with a different culture. Inter-culturally trained employees can impart training to new employees. This approach is especially suitable for SMEs with limited training budgets.

  • Didactic training

Employees are given practical information about living conditions, cultural differences, job details etc when they have to work at a foreign location.

  • Experiential training

 Here employees use simulations, role plays and visit host country to gain experience about a different culture.

  • Language training

 Language training is imperative for employees when intercultural employees don’t speak a common language.

Employees and organization benefit immensely from intercultural training

The need for intercultural training can’t be overstressed. It helps in the development of culturally competent staff. Employees can bring new ideas and approach to the table. This further enables organizations to minimize cultural problems while working with foreign partners. Last but not the least; it helps to save considerable time and money.

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